• Brown smooth-hound shark

    Brown smooth-hound shark

    The brown smooth-hound shark (Mustelus henlei) is an excellent food fish for local people along the California coast. It is also referred to as Sand shark, mud shark, paloma or dogfish. It is found in eastern Pacific from northern California to the Gulf of California, Ecuador and Peru.

    It is found near the bottom in coastal enclosed bays with sandy and muddy bottoms within 800 ft depths.
    It moves alone or form small schools with other similar shark species such as leopard shark or spiny dogfish.

    It has a slender body with a short pointed snout and horizontal oval eyes. The Brown Smooth-hound Shark has a copper-brown back and sides with a white belly. The mouth is short and angular with folded lips. It has two large dorsal fins, of which, the first dorsal fin is broadly triangular with a frayed trailing fin margin. It originates above the free rear tips of the pectoral fin. The second dorsal fin is much larger than the anal fin. Anal fin is small and it is located under the middle of the second dorsal fin while the pectoral fin is moderately large. The caudal fin is strongly asymmetrical and the lower lobe is small with large caudal peduncle. The rear margins of the anal, caudal and dorsal fins are dark in color.

    It is a bottom dwelling fish which feeds on variety of foods and its diet consists of ctrabs, ghost shrimps, mantis shrimps, isopods, polychaetes worm, tunicates, cephalopods and small bony fishes. It grows quite rapidly during the first few years of life but growth slows at maturity. Males and females reach sexual maturity at a size between 50 cm and 65 cm corresponding to 2-4 years of age. It grows up to 6.5 feet in length and the life span of this fish ranges from 12-15 years.

    It breeds during the period from March to May or from May to December. It is v
    iviparous and it reproduces one time per year. It gives birth to 3-9 pups per litter with a gestation period of 10-12 months. At birth the young measures about 20 cm in length. The Brown Smooth-hound Shark is one of the most commonly found sharks in bays and estuaries, particularly in San Francisco, Tomales and Humboldt Bay.

    It is seasonally abundant in inshore estuarine waters during the spring and summer at the young stage but it moves offshore during the winter months when salinity drops due to increased freshwater
    runoff. This fish is extremely common at Fort Baker Pier, Angel Island Pier, San Mateo Bridge Pier, Port View Park Pier, Candlestick Point Pier and all piers along the San Francisco waterfront.

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